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Idea Machines

Apr 2, 2019

In this episode I talk to Evan Miyazono about tackling metaresearch questions, how novel physical phenomena go from "oh that's cool" to devices that harness cutting edge physics, and how we could better incentivize the creators of innovations where traditionally it's hard to capture value, like open-source software and early-stage research.

Evan is a research scientist at Protocol Labs where he helps lead their research efforts - coordinating researchers both inside and outside the company. Protocol labs is best known for Filecoin: a blockchain application for distributed storage. At the same time they also have a much larger mission that we get into in the podcast. Before joining Protocol Labs, Evan did his PhD at Caltech where he worked on turning crazy physics into practical devices for cryptography.

Key Takeaways

  • There might be ways to demystify both intuition and "big H Hard" research research in order to improve our systems for breakthrough discoveries. It's still super speculative but worth thinking about.
  • Observations about physical phenomena and the world are at the core of many innovations, but the most of the process is driven from the top down by the problem, rather than bottom-up by the solution. On top of that, the process of solving the problem can actually feed back and increase our understanding of the underlying phenomena.
  • Finally, there might also be new legal structures we could put in place to encourage more open-source development and fundamental research by allowing people to access more of the value they create in those activities.


Protocol Labs

Evan on Twitter

A quick talk on Protocol Labs research


Cloud Seeding - From the abstract: "The intent of glaciogenic seeding of orographic clouds is to introduce aerosol into a cloud to alter the natural development of cloud particles and enhance wintertime precipitation in a targeted region. ... Despite numerous experiments spanning several decades, no direct observations of this process exist."

SourceCred - a tool to help open source contributors capture the value of their contributions.

Evan on Google Scholar if you want to go really deep. Try saying "Coupling of erbium dopants to yttrium orthosilicate photonic crystal cavities for on-chip optical quantum memories" three times fast.